Accreditation criteria provide guidelines to institutions for achieving quality and excellence

With accreditation about to lose its voluntary status for engineering and technical courses, every technical and higher educational institution has begun to appreciate the need to incorporate quality in its academic activities.

Accreditation criteria provide guidelines to institutions for achieving quality and excellence, and in fact define the profile of an institute of excellence.

The two accrediting bodies, the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) was set up by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was set up the University Grants Commission (UGC), both in 1994. The former is now an autonomous body. While NBA focussed on programme accreditation, NAAC focussed on the institutional accreditation.

In order to discuss the various accreditation processes available for engineering institutions and to benchmark these processes with the quality norms established, a Quality Summit on the ‘Spirit of Accreditation’ was held at the Government College of Technology in association with ZIPS Research Foundation here on Saturday.

Inaugurating the summit, R. Natarajan, former Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and former Chairman of AICTE, pointed out that all stakeholders had started focussing on quality assurance in technical and higher educational institutions.

“With NBA being converted into an autonomous body, the accreditation criteria have been redrafted. The new accreditation norms require the institutions to define a matrix of programme educational objectives and programme outcomes, and demonstrate the correlation between the two. This is also a move towards conforming to The Washington Accord system and the institutions are tailoring their applications to respond to this requirement,” Mr. Natarajan said.

All this gained much significance from the fact that India was trying hard to shed its provisional status and gain permanent membership status of The Washington Accord.

The international Accord had 15 permanent member-countries and five provisional member-countries and was set up to mutually recognise and accept the qualifications accredited by the signatory countries. Members of the Accord had outcome-based accreditation.

Mr. Natarajan explained the steps that were being taken to fulfil the requirements of The Washington Accord. “After several mid-course corrections, a Bill is pending in the Parliament for bringing NBA under an umbrella agency, termed NARAHEI (National Regulatory Authority for Higher Education Institutions).

This would integrate NAAC and NBA into a single system, and would also bring in premier institutions like the IITs and IIMs under its ambit,” he said.

Experts who handled sessions focussed on issues such as whether accreditation meant better quality of education, the impact of accreditation on stakeholders, the role of the accrediting agencies, overview of the new NBA norms and The Washington Accord.

There was also a session in which representatives from institutions who had prepared and got accreditation shared their experiences about the various procedures involved in it.